Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Proposed ordinance not land trade, it's a borough assembly give-away

Two recent front page articles in the Clarion regarding a proposed borough ordinance land deal in Nikiski seems to have stirred up quite a bit of public interest. Gee, I wonder why? I mean who really cares about the backwoods lands in Nikiski anyway?

OK, let's cut all the distracting "fluff" away from the surrounding debate and distill this proposed borough ordinance 2001-08 down to the nucleus. The ordinance very clearly proposes to "trade" 470 acres of beachfront and lakefront property for a pile of gravel. Yes, that's right 400,000 yards, which is about a five-acre pit of gravel.

Does that sound like an incredible deal? Even the two opposing lawyers (Montague and Gilman) agree that the trade is 470 acres of land in exchange for just the gravel. Did I say the two lawyers agreed? Now that's incredible!

It really doesn't matter who is the recipient of this so-called land "trade." Let's just call it what it really is. The borough ordinance is a land give-away. If we call it a "give-away" that relieves us of any responsibility for a fair and equitable trade. It seems less complicated that way, doesn't it? Not too many borough residents care about fairness and equity these days anyway. Clear and simple, the borough grabs a big pile of gravel, and gives away 470 acres of beautiful adjacent land that also has plenty of gravel.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Jack Brown, who authored the ordinance, said he "has been inundated with offers to trade potential gravel sources for borough land" since this story has hit the papers. Maybe there are a few people that care about the backwoods lands of Nikiski after all.

Robin Bogard, Nikiski

Health plans, pension plans, training part of union benefits

I would like to respond to William Keller's April 3 Letter to the Editor:

Nabors employees voted to go union and negotiations of a contract are ongoing. Since they voted to go union they have received an 8 percent raise. Not bad. How many raises have Peak employees enjoyed in the last 13 years? I hear they recently received a raise to try to keep the union out.

When a contract is finalized between the union and Nabors, the employees have a chance to accept or reject the contract. It will include union dues, but the raises they already have will more than pay for it three times over.

The union is offering a health plan that can save the contractor money. Many companies even have their supervisors, managers and office staff in the union's health plan (must be good). Do you have medical insurance when you retire? Many union plans do.

Pension plans are another important feature of unions. Many union members can afford to stay in the state or area because of retirement that may be as high as $2,000 to $4,000 a month. Depending on the contribution rate, construction unions pay out over $9 million dollars a month in pensions to retirees to members in Alaska and public employee retirement pays another $26 million a month in retirements -- over $400 million a year in Union retirement plans. Union members can afford to go out to dinner, a movie or buy a car and enjoy retirement in dignity.

Many unions offer legal benefits. Driving while intoxicated, divorce, child custody and consumer complaints are some of the items covered by these plans. These plans generally cost less than $120 a year, which is less than one visit to an attorney.

Unions have more than 600 apprentices in training for the future and spend over $8 million annually training apprentices and upgrading members' skills -- not relying on all government dollars for training.

William Keller talks of history. Where did the Occupational Safety and Health Administration come from? Surely, the companies didn't think of it. What about the 40-hour work week with overtime and child labor laws?

Unions are alive and healthy in Alaska. Companies make investments and deserve to profit, but their employees deserve good wages, affordable health care, grievance procedures and pensions.

Union Yes,

Blake Johnson, president Kenai Peninsula Central Labor Council

P.S. Oil field workers should thank all Nabors employees for the raises many are getting to try and keep the union out. But raises can be taken back if there is not a contract.

Unions cannot negotiate contracts to keep their members employed

Why do you think so many union workers are out of work right now and working for non-union companies? Is it because the unions have priced themselves right out of the market?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the unions have not been able to negotiate contracts to keep their members employed.

So ... these union workers have been hired at non-union jobs (with the blessing of the unions) and those dues continue to roll in. They need to keep feeding the "fat cats" their exorbitant salaries but what are they getting in return? Obviously not jobs. So, now, they've infiltrated non-union jobs and decided they're going to organize them.

The unions are presently making a run on Peak Oilfield Service Company, and there are many employees just like myself that do not want to see this happen. The unions are making big promises, but ask Nabors employees what the union has done for them recently. Why fix something when it's not broken? Peak already has excellent benefits, a competitive pay scale, 401(k) and an open door policy.

And guess what, boys and girls, we're not the only game in town. There are other non-union companies on the peninsula, and Peak will be priced right out of the market along with other companies the union so graciously took over.

I know I don't want to see my fellow Peak employees signing the out-of-work list and having to scratch to pay their union dues. And let's not forget how it will affect their families.

I think we've got a great company right now. Since I have an administrative position I do not get the opportunity to vote, but if I did it would be NEITHER/NO!

Debbie Goodwin, Administrative Assistant, Peak Nikiski

Proposition 4 on HEA ballot should be defeated by members

Proposition 4 on the Homer Electric Ballot should be defeated with a "No" vote and here's why:

The debt cap has increased from $5 million to $150 million, and the board wants to completely remove the cap.

The proposed amendment takes this type of decision out of the hands and control of the membership and allows the board, as dedicated as they may be, to increase it to whatever levels they desire. This is not good.

I urge a "No" vote on Proposition 4 and ask the board to come back to the membership with an amended version so that we may be included in this important matter.

Hal Rohlman, Sterling

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